Dress for Success
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What to wear to an interview

Appropriate Dress for both Men and Women

  • Conservative two-piece business suit – solid dark blue or grey is best
  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt/blouse – white is best, pastels are next best
  • Clean, polished, conservative shoes
  • Well-groomed hairstyle
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails
  • Minimal cologne or perfume
  • No visible body piercings (nose rings, eyebrow rings, lip rings, etc.) or tattoos

Notes for both Men and Women

  • No jeans, t-shirts, sneakers or canvas slip-on shoes
  • No wet hair
  • No exposed technology – turn off cellphone or tablet and keep out of sight
  • No sunglasses on your head
  • Do not carry a book bag or backpack
  • Empty your pockets – no bulges or tinkling coins
  • No rings other than wedding or college rings
  • Conservative watch – no rubber sports watches
  • No tennis shoes or dock/boat shoes
  • Don't bring coffee or soda with you

Additional Notes for Women

  • Appropriate hosiery is required/seasonal – no rips, tears, runs, bright colors with minimal texture and pattern
  • Carry a nice leather purse or briefcase – one or the other, not both
  • Appropriate shoes – mid-height, closed toed, no scuffs; pay close attention to the heels and soles
  • Neutral nail polish – no chips or bright colors
  • Clean, conservative make-up – keep it light and professional
  • Neatly groomed hair – worn away from your face
  • No flashy, distracting or noisy jewelry – you are the focus of the interview, don't distract with jewelry
  • Avoid extreme form-fitting clothing – keep and eye on skirt length

Additional Notes for Men

  • Necktie should have a conservative pattern and be preferably silk
  • Dark shoes – black lace-ups are best
  • Dark socks – black socks that cover up to the calf are best; match socks to pants
  • Get a haircut – short hair always fares best in interviews
  • Fresh shave, beards and mustaches are a possible negative – if you must, ensure it is neat and trimmed
  • No earrings – if you normally wear one, take it out
  • Light briefcase or portfolio case – preferably leather and neatly organized
  • No short-sleeve dress shirts

If you are not sure how to dress for the interview, call and ask!

Simply call the employer and state:

“I have an interview with ______ in the ______ department for a position as an ______.

Could you please tell me what would be appropriate attire for this interview?"


What is Business Casual?

Many work environments have shifted to business casual as the workday standard. It is important to keep in mind that you should aim to make a great first impression. Remember, it is always better to overdress for an interview than feel uncomfortable because you underdressed.

The term 'business casual' can mean different things depending on the workplace environment. Consider several factors before your interview.

>>Watch the Video

 What industry are you interviewing in?

Industries such as manufacturing and production will naturally have more relaxed dress codes and clothing standards, as where companies that offer business services and require frequent employee contact with customers will require more formal clothing despite a business casual dress code.

 How big is the company/How many employees does the company have?

The larger the company, the more strict the dress code. With a larger number of employees to manage, companies often resort to more cut-and-dry dress code policies to lessen the managerial commitment to the dress code. This is not to assume that smaller companies are less strict, it merely connotes a looser interpretation of the dress code.

 What is the level of interaction between employees and customers?

Often, the more interaction there is between employees and customers will dictate a more professional dress code. If you are unsure of how the level of interaction may affect the position you are interviewing for, simply ask the hiring manager for more information.

 What is the geography/climate/culture/average age of the workforce?

The geographic location, climate, culture and average age of the workforce can all affect the definition of business casual in a workplace. For example, it would be inappropriate to wear a nice sleeveless blouse in cold climates, or conversely, it would be inappropriate to wear a velvet blazer in warm climates. Additionally, keep in mind that an older workforce is often accustomed to a definition of business casual that more closely resembles business professional than casual. Younger workforces are more open to color and pattern while still highly valuing style and professionalism.


Below are some tips and general standards for what constitutes a respectable business casual wardrobe.

Appropriate Business Casual Dress for Both Men and Women

  • Slacks or even khakis, wool, corduroy or cotton pants – well-pressed and wrinkle-free
  • Dress shirt or blouse
  • Open-collar or polo shirt – save these for after you get the job; dress up for the interview
  • Tailored blazer
  • Knit shirt or sweater – this is not a t-shirt
  • Loafers, clogs, dress boots, flats or dress shoes – make sure these cover most of the foot
  • No jeans, sweatpants, exercise pants, bermuda or short shorts, bib overalls, leggings, spandex or bike shorts
  • No athletic shoes, flip-flops or slippers
  • No tank tops
  • No shirts with potentially offensive words, terms, slogans, logos, pictures, cartoons or slogans
  • No hats

>>Watch the Video

Additional Notes for Women

  • Casual dresses and skirts – these should split/end at or below the knee
  • Sweater, twinsets or cardigans – solids are preferred to bright patterns
  • Short, tight skirts should NOT be worn
  • No mini-skorts, skorts, and sun, beach or spaghetti-strap dresses
  • No midriff tops, halter-tops or tops with entirely bare shoulders

Additional Notes for Men

  • Leather shoes and belt
  • Tie optional
  • Golf-type shirts are appropriate – this does NOT mean golf shorts are acceptable
  • Sport coats can be worn in place of a blazer
  • Sport jackets or hoodies should NOT be worn

 

Best Colors to Wear for an Interview

While the colors you wear to an interview won't make or break the deal, they can help and hurt your performance based on what those colors represent to most people. Below are some character traits associated with colors you might wear to an interview.

 

 

Blue is one of the best colors to wear to an interview.
Character traits often associated with this color include: Team Player, Calm, Stability, Trust, Friendly, Confidence, Credibility, Security

Colors  Dress for Success NAVY  

 

Navy is a staple suit color and is also great for interviews.
Character traits often associated with this color aside from those generally associated with blue include: Authority and Confidence

Colors  Dress for Success  BLACK  

 

Black is also a staple suit color and great for interviews.
Character traits often associated with this color include: Leadership and Authority
*Be careful – this color can also be associated with drama and being unapproachable

Colors  Dress for Success  GRAY  

 

Gray is also a great suit color.
Character traits often associated with this color include: Logical, Analytical, Sophistication, Neutrality, Powerful *Be careful – this color can also be associated with isolation

Colors  Dress for Success  BROWN  

 

Brown is a great neutral that can be used for trousers, slacks and even sweaters in it's various shades. Character traits often associated with this color include: Dependable and Calm

Colors  Dress for Success  WHITE   

 

White is a fresh breath of air and can be used to lighten a dark suit or on it's own as a buttoned shirt or sweater.
Character traits often associated with this color include: Organized, Simplicity, Cleanliness, Precision, Truth

Colors  Dress for Success  GREEN  

 

Green is not a staple color, but rather can be used to accent and bring character to a neutral.
Character traits often associated with this color include: Creative and Dependable
*Be careful – some people associate this color with a lack of commitment

Colors  Dress for Success  RED  

 

Red is a bold color that should be worn conservatively for an interview.
Character traits often associated with this color include: Power, Energy, Passion, Assertive, Courage, Excitement *Be careful – this color can also be seen as threatening

Colors  Dress for Success  PURPLE  

 

Purple is also a bold color that has should be worn conservatively if worn to an interview.
The most common character trait often associated with this color is: Creativity
*Be careful – some people associate this color with a lack of commitment or being untrustworthy

Colors  Dress for Success  YELLOW  

 

Yellow is also a bold color that has should be worn conservatively if worn to an interview.
The most common character trait often associated with this color is: Creativity
*Be careful – some people associate this color with a lack of commitment or bring untrustworthy

Colors  Dress for Success  ORANGE  

 

Orange is also a bold color that should be worn conservatively if worn to an interview. This color is often remarked to be the worst color to wear to an interview.
The most common character trait often associated with this color is: Creativity
*Be careful – some people associate this color with a lack of commitment or bring untrustworthy